Oconee County Criminal Court

Oconee County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Oconee County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Oconee County.

Can I appeal a guilty verdict?

If found guilty, a defendant may decide to appeal his case to an appelate court. The appellate court will not retry the case, they will examine the proceedings in the lower court to make sure they were done in a legal manner. The appellate court can either uphold the original conviction, or determine that due to errors made in the original trial, that there must be a retrial, resentencing or a complete dismissal of the charges.

Oconee County Required Court Appearances

In Oconee County, there are both required and non-required court appearances for the defendant. At a required or mandatory appearance hearing, the defendant is required to appear in person before the court. Failing to appear at your required hearing may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest by the judge.

Oconee County Criminal Court

Oconee County Criminal Court

Oconee County Arraignments

An arraignment is a court hearing. In Oconee County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Oconee County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In Oconee County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.

Prosecutor in Oconee County

In Oconee County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Oconee County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent South Carolina. For the most part, the prosecutor in Oconee County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.

If guilty, who sentences the defendant?

If the defendant is found guilty after the trial, the defendent will be sentenced. In some cases, this can occur at the same hearing the defendant is found guilty in court, in other cases a separate hearing will be required. Often the prosecution will request a particular sentence for the defendant and the judge will determine whether to enforce this sentence or impose a different sentence for the defendant.

Plea Agreements

A Plea Agreement, sometimes known as a Plea Bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant, where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest often in exchange for a lesser charge or lighter recommended sentence. A large majority of criminal cases end in a plea agreement. In Oconee County you can inform your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution to attempt to come to a plea agreement, but this is dependent upon the charge severity and also the prosecutors willingness to accept a plea deal.

What is the Burden of Proof?

The term “Burden of Proof” means that the prosecutor is required to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot provide proof of the defendants guilt, then the judge or jury in a trial must find the defendant not guilty. In the United States the principle innocent until proven guilty derives from this that the defendant is assumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

Jury Deliberation

In a jury trial in Oconee County, after both the prosecution and defense have rested, the judge will give instructions to the jury and jury deliberations will begin. The jury will convence in a private room to discuss and deliberate the innocence or guilt of the defendant. Once the jury arrives at a unimanous decision, they will inform the judge that they have reached a decision. They will return to the court and the verdict will be read aloud. If the jury cannot reach a unaminous decision, the jury is said to be deadlocked and a mistrial will be declared in the case.

Who can help me in Oconee County?

For general information about your case the Oconee County court clerk will be able to provide legal information about your specific criminal case. Legal information is not legal advice though, the court clerk will only be able to provide information about your case, like date/time of hearings what will occur at the hearing and what you may be required to do in the hearing. They cannot provide advice about what you should do or what the best legal options may be for your particular case. Only an attorney can provide legal advice and this is your best place for information about your specific criminal proceeding. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney to represent you, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent you, this is most often a public defender.

Oconee County Criminal Court locations

Criminal proceedings take place in the Oconee County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.

What if I can’t afford an attorney?

The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.

The Right to Trial by Jury

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by a jury. This is applicable for when the crime can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail OR a $500 fine, these are known as “Serious Crimes”. The defendant can also waive their right to a speedy and public trial.

Oconee County Criminal Court Locations

  • Oconee County Circuit Court

    Address: 205 West Main Street, PO Box 678, Walhalla, SC 29691
    Phone: 864-638-4280 Fax: 864-638-4282

  • Oconee County Magistrate Court – Seneca

    Address: 207 A-East North 1st Street, Seneca, SC 29678
    Phone: 864-888-1460 Fax: 864-888-1462

  • Oconee County Magistrate Court – Walhalla

    Address: 208 Booker Drive, Walhalla, SC 29691
    Phone: 864-638-4125 Fax: 864-638-4229

  • Oconee County Magistrate Court – Westminster

    Address: 106 East Windsor Street, Westminster, SC 29693
    Phone: 864-647-5998 Fax: 864-647-4844

  • Salem Municipal Court

    Address: 5A Park Avenue, Salem, SC 29676
    Phone: 864-944-2870

  • Seneca Municipal Court

    Address: 225 East North 1st Street, Seneca, SC 29679
    Phone: 864-885-2731 Fax: 864-885-2708

  • Walhalla Municipal Court

    Address: 101 East Main Street, Walhalla, SC 29691
    Phone: 864-638-4341 Fax: 864-638-4357

  • West Union Municipal Court

    Address: 208 Booker Drive, Walhalla, SC 29691
    Phone: 864-638-4125 Fax: 864-638-4229

  • Westminster Municipal Court

    Address: 100 East Windsor Street, PO Box 399, Westminster, SC 29693
    Phone: 864-647-3212

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